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GM sees improved profit in 2015 on China, US growth

General Motors on Wednesday forecast that its 2015 operating profit will increase from last year due mostly to growth in its two largest auto markets, China and the United States.

As it moves past a year marred by massive recalls from a defective ignition switch linked to at least 45 deaths, GM said modest growth in global vehicle sales this year would help the No. 1 U.S. automaker post improved results in all of its regions. It also said it remained on track for 2016 targets, including 10 percent profit margins in North America and a return to profits in Europe.

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Last year, Mary Barra's first as chief executive officer of the Detroit company, GM dealt with the recall of 2.6 million cars due to the faulty switch that led to numerous probes and lawsuits, as well as an increase in the number of vehicles it recalled. Barra in a statement called 2014 "a pivotal year" that GM wants to build on in 2015.

GM, which also affirmed its plan to achieve 9 percent to 10 percent profit margins by early next decade, will boost its capital spending plans this year by 20 percent to about $9 billion. More than one-quarter of the vehicles GM sells next year will come from new and refreshed designs, rising to almost half in 2019.